Aug 7, 2016
West Virginia farmers wary of aggregation center’s future

Crop aggregation machine located in Huntington. Photo: Clark Davis/WV Public Broadcasting

West Virginia farmers are being cautious about the future of the state’s aggregation centers for root crops, reports West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB). The first of several regional aggregation centers for cleaning and packaging root crops opened June 28 in Huntington, West Virginia. The facility is a partnership between the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) and the West Virginia National Guard.

According to the WVDA, the facility’s purpose is to provide another marketing option to small farmers in the region and to re-commercialize agricultural industries that once were common in the Mountain State. The WVDA has invested $475,000 in equipment for the building which currently houses a multi-purpose root crop processing and packaging line, a black walnut sheller and a honey extractor. Plans are to expand the center in the future to include cleaning and packing lines for leafy vegetables and tomatoes.

The project is currently in its second of three years, but some farmers are cautious about the future of the aggregation centers and potato farming, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports.

Here’s more from WVPB:

But farmers like Steve Jordan at G&G nursery in LeSage are still being cautious about the program. He’s just not sure it will be profitable enough to continue farming potatoes after the third year of the pilot project is over. As a part of the program, the department of agriculture helps supply the seeds, equipment and chemicals needed to harvest potatoes.

“Well really we haven’t proven whether they are or aren’t, it’s the second year of the process, it’s a learning process,” Jordan said. “We’ve learned a little more this year than we did last year, so really we can’t say whether it’s going to be a profitable project or not yet.”

Read more on the WVPB website.

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